Earlier this month, I shuffled through my storage area, trying to find a “Hello Spring!” sign I stashed away last year. Scanning the boxes, my heart smiled when I noticed one scrawled with the label “Baby Books.” An idea quickly popped into my mind. (My husband starts having panic attacks when I look at baby things and say things like this.)
I should write a post about some of my favorite board books, I thought excitedly. (And my husband can breathe again: Oh good… she’s just writing about babies. Phew.)
I hauled the box upstairs, where my kids were engrossed, as usual, in their screens. (Sigh). Lo and behold, the power of book memories pulled my daughter’s attention away from the TV: “I remember that one!” she exclaimed as I pulled one of our old favorites from the stack. My kids will probably deny this: But they both ended up sitting by my side and paging through the old books with me.
This is the power of stories, and the sweet memories created while we read them to our kids. And it’s why books have always been one of my favorite baby shower gifts for a new mom: Paired up with a cozy blanket or sweet stuffed animal, it’s a gift that will bring hours of joy to both mom and baby.
I put together this list with a few of my all-time favorites from my own baby days—and added a few newer titles I found as well.
If you have a baby in your life—or a baby soon to arrive—buy them one of these books! (And let me know if you can limit yourself to just one, because I never can!) For those of you with a baby shower gift on the horizon, check out the pairings I’ve added to create a sweet “storytime” baby gift. Happy book shopping!
(*Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means at no cost to you, I will earn a small percentage on items you buy through this link. Thanks for helping me support my family!)
1.Chugga Chugga Choo by Kevin Lewis. The bright, bold colors and easy rhythm of the words made this a favorite for my son. I love the way the illustrations combine the story with familiar toys. For boat or truck lovers, check out Lewis’ Tugga-Tugga Tugboat and My Truck is Stuck.
Pair with these cute train sleepers !
2. Sometimes I Like To Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill. I can still quote at least half of this book by memory, I read it so many times to my kids! The story follows a sweet, little wombat through his day, and ends with him curling up in his favorite spot—right next to mama.
Pair with this cozy blanket to curl up with!
3. Bear and Friends series by Karma Wilson. You can buy each of these board books individually, but my advice? Just buy them all together, because you’re going to end up wanting all of them. My kids loved bear almost as much as I did. The cute stories, perfect poetry, and enchanting illustrations delighted me every time I read them. This was a series I never got sick of reading (and that’s saying something because we read these a lot!)
Pair with an adorable bear, of course!
4. God Bless You and Good Night by Hannah Hall. I just want to hug every little animal in this story—the illustrations make them look so soft and dear. The gentle rhymes bring a sweet little bedtime message for baby. Definitely a book that will be treasured.
A cuddly giraffe . . . and it sings? Are you kiddin’ me? Will someone please get pregnant right now so I can buy this book and this stuffed animal for you?
Baby Shower Idea: Instead of getting a card for the mom-to-be, buy her a board book and jot a quick note of congratulations in the front cover.
5. Carl’s Afternoon in the Park by Alexandra Day. If you’ve never heard of Carl, you’re in for a treat. The books feature very little text, letting the detailed artwork tell the story of this dog-turned babysitter. There are several books in the Carl series—any one would be a perfect gift for a dog-loving couple.
Okay, obviously, you have to pair this story with a stuffed dog!
6. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. Carle’s artwork is timeless and his vibrant colors combined with unique shapes give little eyes a treat. Any of his board books would be a winner, but this is the one we read most often in our house. My kids loved answering the question on each page.
Okay, seriously? Could there be a better pairing for a brown bear book than these pjs ?
7. Quiet Bunny’s Many Colors by Lisa McCue. Mom confession here: I think I loved this book even more than my kids. The illustrations are so endearing and colorful, I think it could stand alone without any words. But the story only adds to its charms: A touching reminder that this world is more beautiful when we celebrate all our unique colors!
Pair it with this adorable bunny cuteness and just try not to hug him before you hand him off to the baby!
8. Please Baby Please by Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee, and Kadir Nelson. I love the expressiveness on the characters’ faces and the sing-song rhythm of the words that get repeated throughout this story. And of course, it helps that the sweet baby girl on the cover is almost as cute as my daughter was at that age.
Please, baby please, go to sleep in this soft sleep sack that you can pair with the book.
9. The Rooster Struts by Richard Scarry. There’s just something about the vintage charm of Richard Scarry books. My kids were completely enamored by them at storytime. (When I told him about this post, my son said “You have to put some Richard Scarry books on your list.” “Which one?” I asked. “All of them!” he replied.) There are many books to pick from (and I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of them). I picked this one because I always adored it’s animal charm.
Pair it with this collection of playful farm animals.
Baby Shower Host Idea: Create a special keepsake for both mom and baby. Buy a sweet board book, then invite guests to write brief notes or prayers on the pages with a permanent marker.
10. I Prayed For You by Jean Fischer. I might have a slight teddy bear problem. By my count, this is the third book on my list featuring bears on the cover, but c’mon, could there be a sweeter story than this? Baby bear hears all the many ways his mama loves him and keeps him in her prayers.
Pair with this praying bear to teach baby their own “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” prayer.
11. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora. Is there a baby on planet earth who doesn’t giggle when adults say that ridiculous-sounding word, “Peekaboo” ? This book is full of family, and color, and sweet baby smiles. And I love that it depicts a child with brown skin—something so important for kids of all color to see in their books.
Pair this with a gorgeous, soft minky blanket—perfect for hiding behind in a game of peekaboo!
12. I Love You Because You’re You by Liza Baker and David McPhail. I’m not sure what I love more about this book; the fact that it features lovable little foxes or the timeless message that we all need to be reminded of—that we’re loved no matter what, on good days and bad.
13. Little Elephant Listens by Michael Dahl and Oriol Vidal. Bright colors and sweet elephants fill the pages of this book, which is part of a whole series on learning manners and good behavior. I picked the elephant book, because I love elephants … but any one of these charmers would make a lovely and practical gift to keep the “sweet” in that baby as he grows!
Pair with a soft, snuggly elephant blanket.
14. Who: Peek-a-Flap Board Book by Jane Garnett. It seems like flap books come and go (I couldn’t find any of the ones we had still in print), but I wanted to include one on my list because my kids both loved them as older babies. This one features a delightful array of forest animals, or if you prefer, check out the Zoo version with a cast of safari favorites.
Methinks this forest friends tag blanket would make a perfect pair with this book!\
15. Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. My kids were captivated by this story of a gorilla who steals the zookeepers’ keys and frees the animals from their cages while he does his rounds. Kids love the ending, when (spoiler alert) the zookeeper’s wife discovers the mischievous gorilla has followed her husband home and into bed!
This taggy monkey is just so cute! Pair him up with this book and baby will probably become a little primate-lover!